John Wilson found high number of Pulse entries on Ian Bailey

60 gardaí logged 149 sightings of Bailey between 1999 and 2012, retired garda tells court

The number of entries regarding journalist Ian Bailey on the garda intelligence collation system was so extensive that it must have been sanctioned at a very senior level within An Garda Síochána, a retired garda has told Mr Bailey's High Court action for damages.

John Wilson said he checked the number of entries on the Garda PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) system for Mr Bailey in 2012 and found that there were 149 such entries between 1999 and 2012.

“It’s obvious to me that this level of garda scrutiny and garda surveillance and this level of criminal intelligence collating was organised at a very high level of an Garda Síochána – of that I have no doubt,” Mr Wilson told Mr Bailey’s barrister, Ronan Munro BL.

Mr Wilson said he became concerned about allegations of garda misconduct in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation during Mr Bailey's Supreme Court appeal in 2011 against his extradition to France, so he checked the PULSE system.


He found that there were some 149 entries logged from 1999 up until February 21st, 2012 – including 23 in 2001, 17 in 2004, 20 in 2010 and 24 in 2011 with the entries being made by about 60 gardaí both while on and off duty, said Mr Wilson.

Among the sightings of Mr Bailey which were logged was one from October 7th, 2009, when he was seen with his partner, Jules Thomas at Coffee Central at the English Market in Cork, and another from February 13th, 2010, when he was stopped at a checkpoint in Bandon in Cork.

Others included one from July 31st, 2010, when he called into Bantry Garda Station to sign on, another from July 20th, 2011, when he was seen with Ms Thomas in Skibbereen and another from September 15th, 2011, when he was seen attending a post-grad conference at UCC.

"I discovered that Mr Bailey and Ms Jules Thomas were under a level of garda surveillance that is reserved for active criminal offenders," said Mr Wilson, adding that it was a serious step to allocate somebody a criminal intelligence number as it stayed with them for life.

He said he made a formal complaint on April 4th, 2012 to the then confidential recipient, Oliver Connolly, but he received no response which surprised him as he knew Mr Connolly to be "an honourable and decent person".

“I gave a summary alleging malpractice on the part of An Garda Síochána for subjecting Mr Bailey and Jules Thomas to such a level of scrutiny which would be reserved for serious criminal activity,” said Mr Wilson.

Cross-examined by counsel for the state, Luan O’Braonain SC, Mr Wilson said he accepted that PULSE entries could be made about somebody without a criminal conviction, but only once there was “cast iron information” and not just “tittle tattle and rumour”.

“This level of surveillance is reserved for individuals involved in active criminality or convicted of offences . . . it is not appropriate for a person who is not involved in such practices to be allocated a criminal intelligence number that will remain with them for life.

"I believe the public in general would hope it is reserved for such people and it is totally inappropriate for police to be scrutinizing citizens without good cause . . . in the Ireland that I live, it is not satisfactory that the system should be abused in this manner."

Mr Wilson confirmed he had no involvement in the murder investigation.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times